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European Geosciences Union

Research Associate, Astronomy and Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Research Associate, Astronomy and Earth and Atmospheric Sciences


Cornell University

Cornell is a private Ivy League University and the land grant University for New York State. The Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science’s mission is to foster research among astronomers, physicists, engineers, geologists and other researchers with interests relevant to space sciences. Connected to, and contained within, the Department of Astronomy, the Center administers research grants and contracts across several Cornell departments. The Center also aims through public outreach to disseminate information about space science to students and the general public.


Ithaca, United States of America


Relevant divisions
Atmospheric Sciences (AS)
Earth and Space Science Informatics (ESSI)

Full time

Entry level

min. 55000 € / Year

Required education

Application deadline
15 January 2020

13 November 2019

Job description

Cornell University expects to have an opening for a Research Associate in exoplanet research starting in Spring, 2020. The position requires a Ph.D. knowledge on Earth and planetary materials, melting processes, and experience with experimental petrology/geochemistry and infrared spectroscopy. The position is for one year, with subsequent renewals depending on performance and the availability of funds.

The Research Associate will be part of the interdisciplinary Research Group of the Carl Sagan Institute (CSI) at Cornell University and work with Lisa Kaltenegger (Astronomy) and Esteban Gazel (Earth and Atmospheric Sciences) in a project supported by the Heisting-Simons foundation and will experimentally explore the composition of exosolar lava planets. There is up to three years of research support as well as opportunities to present in international conferences and be part of professional development programs at Cornell. Ideally, we would like the Research Associate to start in Spring 2020 to be part of the design of the new laboratory facilities and start conducting experiments for the project described below.

Earth started as a lava planet, covered by a magma ocean sustained by the energy of accretionary impacts. Since then, the direct connections to our origin as a lava world are mostly lost. The exciting discovery of hundreds of lava worlds around other stars opens new opportunities to explore what those planets are made up of, as well as our primordial planetary origin through the study of their composition. The first observations from the surface of a lava world (LHS 3844) were recently done using the Spitzer Space Telescope. This significant breakthrough demonstrates that we will be able to observe the surface of more lava worlds in the future. Nevertheless, the biggest challenge we face as new data become available is that we cannot interpret the observations made by current (Spitzer and Hubble) and upcoming telescopes (e.g., James Webb Space Telescope) without a library of experimentally observed spectra of hot and molten surfaces and their potential outgassed atmospheres. The project “Laboratory Exploration of Lava Worlds” will provide these critical experimental data to explore the surface and atmospheric compositions of lava planets and help identify telltale signs of different materials to give us insight for the interpretations of future exoplanet observations.

The research associate will be actively involved in the development of the lab, conduct experiments, produce measurements of the reflectivity and emission spectrum of representative composition surfaces, and interpret/model results, with the goal of providing the data necessary for future observations of lava worlds. The project requires weekly presentations with advancement on the project to the PIs and during the CSI monthly meetings, the publication of results in peer-reviewed journals, and the development of a catalog of spectra that will be released by the end of the project.

Completed applications should be received no later than January 15th, 2020. Cornell University is an innovative Ivy League university and a great place to work. Our inclusive community of scholars, students and staff impart an uncommon sense of larger purpose and contribute creative ideas to further the university’s mission of teaching, discovery and engagement.

Located in Ithaca, NY, Cornell’s far-flung global presence includes the medical college’s campuses on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and Doha, Qatar, as well as the new Cornell NYC Tech campus to be built on Roosevelt Island in the heart of New York City.

The position is for one year, with continuation for two more years’ contingent upon funding and performance. The nominal starting date is Spring, 2020 and is negotiable.

Applicants must hold a PhD in Astronomy or Earth and Atmospheric Science or a related field and provide proof of PhD upon hire.

Applicants are encouraged to apply through Academic Jobs online.

Applicants should submit a cover letter, a CV (including list of publications) and a brief (2-3 pages) description of research interests, and should arrange three letters of reference to be submitted through Academic Jobs Online or sent to the email below.

Alternatively, you may also submit applications by email to Ms. Lynda Sovocool . (Please note “CSI Research Associate” in the subject heading, and put the CV and research statement in a single PDF file.) All materials must be received by January 15, 2020.

Included Benefits: Benefit information can be reviewed at: Cornell University is an Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity Employer. Woman and underrepresented minorities are strongly encouraged to apply.

Diversity and Inclusion are a part of Cornell University’s heritage. We are a recognized employer and educator valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and Individuals with Disabilities.

QUALIFICATIONS AND EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS PhD in Earth and Atmospheric Science, Astronomy, or a related field Recent related research publications with a strong publication record Proven verbal and written communication skills Successful research experience in field

PREFERRED SKILLS Knowledge on Earth and planetary materials, melting processes, and experience with experimental petrology/geochemistry and infrared spectroscopy.

Diversity and Inclusion are a part of Cornell University’s heritage. The College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell embraces diversity and seeks candidates who will create a climate that attracts students and faculty of all races, nationalities, and genders. We strongly encourage women and underrepresented minorities to apply. Cornell University is a recognized EEO/AA employer and educator, valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and Individuals with Disabilities.

How to apply

Apply online through Academic Jobs online at: